CATELLIER, LAURENT (baptized Laurent-Justinien), physician and professor; b. 5 Sept. 1839 in Saint-Vallier, Lower Canada, son of Prisque Catellier, a blacksmith, and Marguerite Marceau; m. first 5 Jan. 1868 Alice Taylor in St Patrick’s Church at Quebec; m. secondly 21 April 1874 Odile Gauvreau in the church of Saint-Roch; m. thirdly 8 March 1887 Marie-Louise Moraud in Notre-Dame basilica; there were seven children from his first two marriages, three of whom outlived him; d. 17 Jan. 1918 at Quebec and was buried two days later in the Saint-Charles cemetery.
Through the generosity of his uncle Siméon-Germain Marceau, who was the curé of Saint-Simon, near Rimouski, Laurent Catellier studied at the Petit Séminaire de Québec from 1852 to 1859 and then enrolled in the faculty of medicine at the Université Laval. He obtained his bachelor’s degree in medicine in 1863 and was licensed to practise by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Lower Canada in the same year. After serving as house doctor at the Asile de Beauport, he was appointed resident physician at the Marine and Emigrant Hospital in 1865. That year he also was granted the degree of doctor of medicine.
Catellier’s success attracted the attention of the university authorities and in 1866 they offered to send him to Paris for further study. His particular field of interest was surgery. When he returned in the summer of 1867, he resumed his duties at the Marine and Emigrant Hospital, where he gathered around him a number of young physicians also trained in Paris. Together they laid out vast plans and attempted to advance medical teaching.
In 1870 Catellier was appointed special professor of practical anatomy in the faculty of medicine at the Université Laval. He also served as secretary of the faculty until 1872. In 1874 he was appointed full professor of practical anatomy and practical surgery and was given responsibility for clinical instruction in external pathology, or surgery, at the Marine and Emigrant Hospital. He had a remarkable talent for teaching theory, and was acknowledged to be without equal in the art of initiating students into the practice of surgery. After Dr Jean-Étienne Landry* resigned in 1881, the university council immediately offered Catellier the chair of external pathology, which he was to hold for a quarter of a century.
Catellier became a member of the university council on 9 Sept. 1895. His personality commanded respect and he won the confidence of everyone. The university and the seminary entrusted him with the most delicate assignments. On 16 Dec. 1901 he and Dr Michel-Delphis Brochu began performing an autopsy on the remains of Bishop François de Laval* on behalf of the judges responsible for beatification hearings. He was frequently asked to represent the university and to defend its interests in dealings with various public bodies.
On 29th Sept. 1905 Catellier became the seventh dean of the faculty of medicine, succeeding Dr Louis-Joseph-Alfred Simard. His appointment came at a time when both the federal government and the College of Physicians and Surgeons of the Province of Quebec wanted to exercise greater control over the teaching of medicine and the evaluation of future physicians. Previously the universities, while never refusing to comply with the law, had enjoyed considerable autonomy.
In 1907 the provincial legislature passed a new act guaranteeing the medical faculties of Laval, Montreal, and McGill two representatives to the College of Physicians and Surgeons of the Province of Quebec and recognizing the validity of university diplomas. Two years later the statute was amended and was titled the Quebec Medical Act. It put the “business of the college” under the control of a board of directors known as the Provincial Medical Board, upon which each of the medical faculties was entitled to have two representatives. The new law lengthened the medical course to five years and standardized evaluation procedures by creating the Medical Board of Examiners, two-thirds of whose members were professors at the medical faculties.
As dean, Catellier worked to consolidate the courses of study in medicine. He not only adapted the program to the demands of the college of physicians, but also sought to incorporate new discoveries, calling on the university to ensure that the requirements for “practical instruction in pathological anatomy, bacteriology, physiology, and hygiene” could be met. Despite his zeal in the cause of public health, Catellier did not have the satisfaction, during his term as dean, of witnessing the creation of a course in it and the installation of the laboratories he had been calling for since 1907. It was not until 26 May 1911 that the university council, acting on a recommendation from the Central Board of Health of the Province of Quebec, introduced a course in public health for those holding the degree of doctor of medicine. In 1910, having devoted 40 years to medical education, Catellier had retired; he was succeeded as dean by Dr Michael Joseph Ahern. In gratitude for his outstanding services, the Université Laval conferred on him the title of professor emeritus.
Catellier also played an important role in municipal affairs. From 1891 to 1913, as the physician responsible for Quebec City’s board of health, he was one of the architects of the municipal policy on public health. He exposed the prevailing unhygienic conditions and early in 1893 submitted a new regulation dealing with cleanliness, sanitation, and hygiene in the city which was adopted unanimously. During his term of office he made many recommendations: the construction of sanitary installations, garbage collection, the building of a sewer system, and protection for the source of the water supply. He encouraged the establishment of an abattoir for the use of butchers and the appointment of milk inspectors. The opening in November 1891 of a 20-bed municipal hospital on Rue des Prairies to treat cases of diphtheria had been the board’s first concrete achievement; the facility was completed in 1893 with the construction of a sterilization unit.
Laurent Catellier passed away on 17 Jan. 1918 at the Hôtel-Dieu, where from 1890 for many years he had been professor of external pathology. The following day the Université Laval and the Quebec Medical Society, a body he had helped found in 1897 and had served as secretary and as a director, mourned his death. His funeral was held on 19 January at the Quebec basilica in the presence of the archbishop, Louis-Nazaire Cardinal Bégin*, and university representatives. According to the journal of the Séminaire de Québec, it was an unprecedented event, since Catellier was the first professor emeritus to die.
AC, Québec, État civil, Catholiques, Cimetière Saint-Charles (Québec), 19 janv. 1918. ANQ-Q, CE1-1, 8 mars 1887; CE1-22, 21 avril 1874; CE1-98, 5 janv. 1868; CE2-8, 6 sept. 1839. Arch. de la Ville de Québec, QC3-1, procès-verbaux, 1891–1916; QC3-2, rapports annuels, 1891–1916. Arch. du Monastère des Ursulines (Québec), 1/D7 (lettre du Dr [Laurent] Catellier à mère Sainte-Marie, supérieure, 19 avril 1873). ASQ, Fichier des anciens; Journal du séminaire, 8–10; Univ., 105–6, 172, 174, 178. Le Canadien, 17 juill., 16 oct. 1863; 1er mai 1865; 24 sept. 1866; 2 août 1867; 10 janv. 1868; 15 juin 1870; 3 juin 1882; 4 janv. 1884; 31 juill., 3 août 1885. L’Événement, 18 janv. 1918. Le Soleil, 18–19, 21 janv. 1918. C.-M. Boissonnault, Histoire de la faculté de médecine de Laval (Québec, 1953), 292–327. F.-X. Chouinard et al., La ville de Québec, histoire municipale (4v., Québec, 1963–83), 4. Joseph Gauvreau, “Le bon docteur Catellier,” L’Union médicale du Canada, 47 (1918): 86–92. Denis Goulet et André Paradis, Trois siècles d’histoire médicale au Québec; chronologie des institutions et des pratiques (1639–1939) (Montréal, 1992). Arthur Maheux, “Les doyens de la faculté de médecine,” Laval médical (Québec), 23 (1957): 45–51. “Société médicale de Québec: [le procès-verbal de la] séance du 5 février 1897,” L’Union médicale du Canada, 26 (1897): 199–204. Univ. Laval, Annuaire, 1857–1919.